Wednesday, November 13, 2013

PKS: Perfect Kid Syndrome

There's this social disease we have going on, and we've had it for a while.

It's our perfect kid syndrome,  our belief that a kid is only going to be as good in their entire life as they are when they're a kid, a kid who hasn't achieved anything in sports, well, not going to the Olympics boy, now are we? Don't have a 4.0 in 4th grade? Second-rate college for you little girl. What you do when you are 8, 9, 10? Sets the tone for the reeeeest of yeeeer life... so put your back to it, get your head out of your little butt and get cracking on those spelling words.

Aaaagh. It's not enough to be just a kid. It's not enough to have the goal of running home so you can go play outside/on your console/with your friend/just get home and have a snack  and plop down in front of a cartoon dang it, you have to achieve something real, something notable, something the average adult hasn't even accomplished in their entire lives... but, oh.. no, the best kids, well, they're not mine, they haven't invented anything, not yours, haven't composed anything.

Are you in competitive soccer? What? No? Why not, is he in baseball? What? No? It'll affect his game when he's 12.... say it with me... aaaaahhhh.

Oh. Well, what languages does your child speak? Oh, they're just starting Spanish?  My child, smarter than yours. In the highest level origami group, and speaks Mandarin Chinese, as well as French, fluently. We take things seriously in our family.

The thing is, the thing we know as adults because we've been through it, is it all resets. They stop doing the things they did just to make us happy, and do their own thing, around the time they hit high school and sometimes, middle school.

Kids are like the training tutorials. It's all nice in there, and the rules are fairly easy and well explained, and the little diagram boxes pop up to help you understand how to use the combos on the controller, and there's lots of training fights, but then, you leave the tutorial room, and your kid is no longer in your protected space.

Everything about a child, their hopes, dreams and wishes gets analyzed and occasionally tossed out the window.  In the game of growing up, the rules are tested and personalities, interests change, begin, or are lost.

In High School and beyond suddenly, the dreams are theirs, the goals are theirs and they're not interested in soccer, they stopped doing Mandarin Chinese homework, they can't remember French and they are now majoring in sleeping in and no longer interested in being an engineer or whatever they were convinced they were going to be at 12. At 10, I was going to be an army combat doctor,  surgeon specifically, I'd have a combat helmet and be running around on a field being all cool combat chick with a surgical kit. Or maybe a scientist because all I did was devour books on planets and stars. I knew the compositions of all the planets in the solar systems by heart. I was going to go to the olympics for roller skating - I had a silver star! -  and somehow, in my world, roller skating was going to be cooler than ice skating.

I was also going to be rescued from this planet by my people, who lived on another planet and had been looking for me, their long lost warrior princess, for 11 years. I remember the palace I created in my imagination. It was on a beach by a beautifully tropical ocean with a pink sunset that lingered for hours. Every now and again, I look up, hopefully...

Of course I was also going to be an archeologist, geologist and explorer.

So when I hear people talk about their child's achievements, about how amazing, brilliant, wonderful, athletic, smart, genius-like, driven etc etc, how they'll grow up to be engineers, professional soccer players and this, that, the other thing, or how they have a natural gift,  I smile, how wonderful.

I also know it's not going to hold true throughout their lives, because at some point, these kids   are going to have opinions, pick up friends, stop going to soccer practice, and hopefully, hopefully, will just be kids.  Hopefully, they''ll stick to their natural gifts, and follow their passions.

The truth? We all get tired of it, us parents, we don't want to hear about it. If we're a parent, your child's brilliance, amazingness and specialness is nice, but it is nothing compared to our child's own version of brilliance, amazingness and specialness, even if your kid is headed to the youth ice skating championship of the world before headed to their world chess league games conveniently located in China, where your child can also practice their foreign language skills.  And I'm not fooled. I know it's exaggerated, the nice bits of the kids polished up, the rough spots covered with a tacky blanket from grandma. I know that under that veneer of parent boasting, under the PR sales pitch, your kid is just a kid.

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